Project Grand Slam releases new LP

2019 has been turning out one hit after another in both the mainstream and the underground thus far, and Project Grand Slam is only the latest group to add another jewel to this banner year in pop. Robert Miller’s jazz/rock vehicle executes grooves of a grandiose quality in their latest record PGS 7, and with leadoff single “Redemption Road,” the pointed ballad “Tree of Life” and the punishingly provocative “Get Out” only covering a fraction of the magic the tracklist has in store for all who explore it, you can rest assured that this is an LP that won’t wear out its welcome in a month’s time. Project Grand Slam are leaders of their pack, and this album might be their most poignant statement ever.

Let’s first take a look at the instrumental “Torpedo of Love.” Though singer Ziarra Washington is missing from this track (as well as two others in the album), there’s a narrative to be taken away from this song, and it’s expressed through the divinity of Mario Castro’s startlingly sumptuous sax in the center of guitarist Tristan Clark’s romantic riffing and keyboardists Baden Goyo and Marcello Casagrandi’s funky melodies. It’s doesn’t pack the wallop that “Python” (another instrumental) or “Yeah Yeah” do, but there’s a supple emotion in the relationship between the players here that can’t be summarized in lyrics, no matter how poetic or cathartic in nature. “Take Me” and “Funk Latino” come close to equaling the physicality of this track, but for me, “Torpedo of Love” is the perfect exhibition of Miller’s aptitude for luscious indulgence.

“No One’s Fool” and “The ‘In’ Crowd” are a one-two punch that, while containing two songs that are totally accessible individually, I would never want to separate. There’s nothing rushed in PGS 7 – in the patient grooving of “At Midnight,” the urgent growl of the percussion in “Redemption Road,” the sexy soul stylings of Ziarra Washington in “Get Out;” all of this material feels very deliberately structured and meticulously arranged from start to finish. Project Grand Slam never throw an album together, and in this sense, PGS 7 is no different; where it’s most unique in the larger body of work that the band has released is in its fluid embrace of experimental rhythms, which keep it flowing in a stream of conscious style that gives the LP it’s surreal glow.

I’m so excited to hear this particular set of songs from Robert Miller’s premier group live at some point. Those who have seen Project Grand Slam on more than one occasion have frequently hailed them as one of the most entrancing stage acts in the game today, and all of this material has the look and feel of concert fodder that could easily be experimented with in the heat of the moment. PGS 7 is the polar opposite of the rigidly designed jazz fusion that we’ve heard out of some of the band’s closest rivals lately, and despite the scattered moments of abrasiveness and ambient excess, it’s by far one of the more cohesive and cinematic LPs that I’ve come across this month.


Sebastian Cole